I hate defensive writing. I hate saying, I didn’t mean this and I didn’t mean that. But that’s what I’m going to do today.
First, my last blog post on the Unmosqued discussion was heartfelt, the product of almost two decades of work with the Muslim American community.
Second, that selfsame blog post was not primarily a reflection on or analysis of CIMIC, the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center. I was not being insincere when I said that CIMIC is head and shoulders above the other mosque and community experiences I have had. We have here people who are genuinely interested in the community, in being inclusive, and in being egalitarian.
But CIMIC, like (let’s pull a number out of a hat) 90% of mosques in the United States, works within a particular format, and that format is what I spoke of in my last blog post.
The fact that a mosque arranges a viewing of Unmosqued speaks volumes for the secret desire for change among even gatekeepers.
One thing is certain: when I demand change, for me, for my daughter, for my sisters who have never been to the mosque, I am doing so because we all need that change. We are trapped within a format, a methodology, and it’s not working for almost all of us (I could pull out another percentage from my hat here).
One of the problems is, in most communities, we are too busy reacting to ongoing challenges to think about that change.
One of these challenges that I have seen decent, well-intentioned mosque folks deal with is this: the salafi Islamists at the gate, pushing for control, more control.
If you’ve lived through the 1990s, you’ll wonder why they’re still trying to get control, but they are. And when they get a khutbah in, you hear their views on gender and politics, and you respond with NO MORE.
No more authoritarian, foreign, sexist religious ideology. It was dominant during the 1990s here, and we have no nostalgia for it.
In the words of the dating website: It’s Our Time.